This article is part of a complete guide to preparedness - Getting Prepared, An Untrained Housewife's Guide. Everything you need to have a simple survival plan for you and your family!
Awhile back, I wrote an article on stocking a pantry one month at a time. Since then, I have had a chance recently to inventory my family’s own level of preparedness. Using The Food Guys’ chart, I am well prepared to live off-grid, with no access from the outside world, for 2 months. I thought you might like to see how the articles translate into reality. Here is how it breaks down:
Grains and Legumes
I have 573 pounds of grains, mostly wheat, on hand. (I also have a hand grinder!) According to the Food Guy, that will last my [now] family of 4 for six months. In the past, I have not attempted to store brown rice because I was told the oils in it would turn rancid in a short time. Now, however, I can store brown rice for up to five years, thanks to Shelf Reliance recently making it available. I also like corn bread, so I have a small amount on hand – #2 cans for now.
To me, legumes are beans. I don’t have a lot of variety, but I do have 23 pounds of dried beans on hand, plus several jars that I have home canned. That is supposed to last us a bit more than 1 month.
Dairy, Sugar and Essentials
In the dairy aisle, we have three and a half months stored. This includes powdered milk, powered eggs, powdered sour cream and powdered butter. I use all of these products regularly, rather than their storebought counterparts, so these get rotated on a regular basis. And, as a bonus, I know they taste good!
Disappointingly, I am low on sugars. I have surprised myself! I have enough sugars on hand, plus my jelly crop from this past summer (the peach trees did really well!), to last my family a little less than two months. Ordering sugar for long term storage is pretty expensive, so I don’t use what I store in this case. I save it for if-and-when I need it. I have white sugar, brown sugar, and honey crystals. I will definitely give this category some attention. I WILL NOT endure any crisis without an ample supply of sweets!
Essentials are probably the easiest to stock up on because we use such small amounts of them at one time. I have 1 year’s worth of baking powder, baking soda and vinegar. The powder and soda I have purchased in #10 cans for an extra long shelf life. This is another product that I do not use from my storage. I buy it at the store for my regular use. But how long will baking soda last in that cardboard box? I wonder . . . Any of the essentials are a good place to begin your first month’s worth of food storage because you can obtain them easily and cheaply, and then feel a sense of accomplishment. The next item will be easier after that!
We have our own well, so water storage is not a concern for us. I did realize that I do not have much bleach on hand, though. This is one way to purify water. This is an area to be addressed for my family ASAP.
Produce, Fats, and Oils
My fruit and vegetable storage are all freeze-dried or dehydrated, making it very light and impossible to measure in pounds. So, I had to guess at how much I have relative to The Food Guy’s recommendation. He says I need 61 pounds of each for my family of 4 for one month. That seems like a lot to me. . . . oh well! This is a place where I would rather err on the side of caution – or in this case – excess! I counted each #10 can of fruit or vegetable as 5 pounds. Using that formula (ooh! A math word!), I have less than one month’s supply of fruits and two or more months of vegetables.
Fats and oils presented an interesting challenge. The Food Guy offers no counsel on meat. Wouldn’t meat fall into the fats/oils category? That is where I put it. If you consider my canned meat and meat entrees, I figure that we have a two month’s supply. However, in hard times, we may ration our food or at least eat meat sparingly. Other than meats, my fats and oils supply is almost non-existent. But it is one we need to pay attention to in order to maintain health in stressful situations.
According to the Food Guy, I need 16 pounds of shortening. I have 2 cans of powdered shortening. But, I cannot fry anything with the powdered. Sixteen pounds seems like a lot to me; I only use shortening for some cookie recipes! So, I may just use my own best judgement on that one. (Rule #1: Never store anything long term that you will not use!) Eight gallons of oil are recommended. I only have one week’s worth, but I cannot imagine using eight gallons of oil in one month! He also recommended mayonnaise and salad dressing. . . again, I fall way short. But we don’t use that much mayonnaise. Peanut butter – here is where I felt the hit! We use TONS of peanut butter – and I only had the jar we were currently using! What is wrong with me!? Peanut butter is a staple around here, and if we had to go through any crisis without it, well, it would prove unbearable! After a bit of research I discovered that bulk peanut butter at Sam’s Club is the cheapest! I will now work on building up my long term storage of peanuts – and keep our daily use peanut butter in a different area of the pantry.
That takes care of the food. The other emergency preparedness items I have recommended throughout the series on Getting Prepared include medical, lighting, heat, cookware, batteries if needed, and fuel. And don’t forget the morale boosters like books, games, puzzles and treats. After doing my inventory, I realized we are in pretty good shape.
In the lighting department, I looked at lamp and oil burn time. The kerosene lamps, oil and wicks added up fast, and we have plenty for at least two months. And, I have immediate plans to make 50 hour candles as seen on Pinterest. My husband always has firewood cut a year ahead of time – important because it burns best if it is well-cured. I have a small supply of batteries, but then I realized I hadn’t first considered what we have that uses batteries and what sizes! Duh! Finally, our biggest weakness in this department is fuel. We have none. This is alright – if we don’t want to use our generator.
I encourage you to do an inventory of your home. What do you have? Maybe more than you think – like I did with lighting. Or maybe you will find an area that you are lacking in – like I did with sugar and fuel. Start where you are right now, and work towards a 30-day supply. It took me several months to get to one month. Do the best that you can, and let God make up the difference!